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The Corps' top west coast general is readying his Marines for the next big war
The Marine Corps' top general on the west coast is readying his Marines for the next big war against a near peer competitor, and one of his main concerns is figuring out how to alter the mindset of troops that have been fighting insurgencies since 9/11.
"If anything my problem is getting people out of the mindset of [counterterrorism] and making sure they're thinking about near peer adversaries in their training programs," Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California, told Task & Purpose in an interview on Friday.
Exercise Pacific Blitz is one program in particular that is currently doing just that, involving thousands of Marines, sailors, and coast guardsmen training in and around southern California. The joint exercise not only brings together a large number of personnel but various assets as well, including Navy ships and landing craft, CH-53 helicopters, V-22 Ospreys, F-35s, and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a ground-based artillery system the Marines have previously test-fired from amphibious transport ships.
The bigger picture goal: Getting a large force like the 50,000-strong I MEF from sea to shore in a contested environment, described by the general in a press release as leveraging "a Marine land component as part of our larger goal of sea control."
Osterman even said personnel were being put ashore at nearby Catalina Island to build aircraft runways — seemingly a throwback to the Marine Corps' island-hopping campaigns of World War II.
"It's not part of the exercise necessarily but that's kind of one of the things we'd have to do on these remote islands is build runways. So it's somewhat tangentially aligned," Osterman said. "We're doing connector capability between islands."
In February, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Task & Purpose the Corps had begun to move its training to a more traditional fight instead of what grunts would face against unsophisticated enemies in the Middle East, most notably in using more advanced enemies in force-on-force training against Marines going through pre-deployment training at 29 Palms, California.
"They had aircraft. They were able to jam [communications]. We had aircraft. And we fought force on force," Neller said on the sidelines of the 2019 West Conference in San Diego. "Marine infantry now, they've gotta look up" since enemies in Syria and Iraq have increasingly used unmanned aerial vehicles, and near peers will have assets such as attack helicopters and artillery.
As Osterman explained, Marine grunts now need to learn how to counter enemy drones, prepare for their GPS or communications to be jammed, and understand that enemy artillery, aircraft, or reconnaissance capabilities will be much more advanced if they're up against an adversary like China or Russia.
"We haven't had to worry about that for two decades," Osterman said. "The Taliban doesn't have any satellites up there."
Some of Osterman's Marines have already had a taste of that in Syria, where state and non-state actors have employed high-end anti-aircraft systems, GPS jamming technology, or hacking, for example.
"The Special Purpose [Marine Air Ground Task Force] we send to Central Command is engaged in all of that. High end, you know, kinetics in Syria, all the way down through advising the Iraqi forces. It's one where we've gotta do it all, frankly."
"Instead of having a forward operating base out there that they're living out of and doing operations they've actually got to constantly be moving because if they sit too long the enemy artillery is going to take them out," Osterman said of tactics Marines are beginning to think about. "So that gets them almost a little bit, back to [their] roots."
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WATCH: US Marines go head-to-head against British Royal Marines
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.